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The Actor and the Housewife

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A very different kind of fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale. What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter… Mormon hou A very different kind of fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale. What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter… Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened…though nothing has happened. It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special…something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it? A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.


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A very different kind of fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale. What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter… Mormon hou A very different kind of fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale. What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter… Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened…though nothing has happened. It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special…something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it? A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

30 review for The Actor and the Housewife

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    I'm going to warn you upfront that I had an extreme reaction to this book. An extreme and unexpected reaction. Just ask DH. He had to listen to me rant ad nauseam until I'd exorcised the demons enough to move on. The thing is I haven't reacted so strongly to a book for quite some time and it took me a bit by surprise. Oh, well, who are we kidding? It threw me for one hell of a loop and I had an extremely hard time shaking it off. Despite all this I'm going to try to continue my tradition of spoi I'm going to warn you upfront that I had an extreme reaction to this book. An extreme and unexpected reaction. Just ask DH. He had to listen to me rant ad nauseam until I'd exorcised the demons enough to move on. The thing is I haven't reacted so strongly to a book for quite some time and it took me a bit by surprise. Oh, well, who are we kidding? It threw me for one hell of a loop and I had an extremely hard time shaking it off. Despite all this I'm going to try to continue my tradition of spoiler-free reviews and, as a result, won't be able to tell you the precise reasons why I reacted the way I did. I won't be able to go into excruciating detail explaining exactly how and when my emotions bounced back and forth. But let's be honest. That's probably for the best. So. Becky Jack is a Mormon housewife living in Layton, Utah, pregnant with her fourth child. She has just sold a screenplay to a film agency in LA and is meeting them there to sign the contract, when in walks Felix Callahan--sexy British star of Becky's favorite romantic comedies. The two of them clash right from the start and, despite their visible disdain for one another (and the fact that Felix has long been Becky's movie star crush), they find themselves staying at the same hotel and eating dinner together that night. Becky returns to Utah sure it was some fluke, a fun story to tell the fam, and that she'll never see Felix again. Au contraire, Becky. Turns out Felix hasn't been able to get their abrasive encounter out of his head and the next time he has a layover in Salt Lake City, he turns up to see her and figure out what the deal is. From there these two unlikely characters become the very best of friends. Talk on the phone daily, stay up all night long talking, drop everything to jet off to New York at a moment's notice kind of BFFs. As you might expect, a whole host of factors get in the way of their "friendship," including at times concerned/jealous spouses, their different faiths (or rather Becky's strict one and Felix's utter lack of one), their diametrically opposed lifestyles, etc. Self-proclaimed platonic lovers, these two weather the small and large storms of life as their friendship and story stretches out over a decade and more. I'll preface my comments by saying I have read all of Shannon Hale's YA books. I love her Books of Bayern and thought her first adult novel Austenland was a fun, light romp for Austen fans. I expected to like this book just fine. I knew it would be quirky and different and fun. I certainly didn't go in expecting a happy ending because, well, given the subject matter who would? I laughed my way through the first 100 pages because any scene Becky and Felix share sparkles. I even cried. Once. At a scene about 80 pages in or so that was just so real (and a little close to home) it struck me in the gut. However, I felt that the next 250 pages were an uneven roller coaster ride of conflicting emotions, increasingly hard-to-swallow turns of event, and very inconsistent characterizations. Every aspect of the story felt so deliberate and pre-planned that it got in the way of my reading experience. It was strangely a prime example of too much telling and not enough showing. The narrator and Becky herself told me over and over (and over again) how much she was in love with her solid-as-a-brick-wall husband, how little Felix meant to her compared to Mike, how she would never do anything to jeopardize her marriage, etc. Her actions spoke differently. The actual depiction of her marriage was lukewarm at best. The rock Mike was too vague an image to grasp onto. Next to Felix he was a mere smudge. Felix clearly meant an inexplicable amount to Becky. And vice versa. These two cannot function properly without each other. They will always be returning to each other. The crystal clear, most evocative, and resonant depictions were of Becky and Felix. And it was simply too difficult for me to buy everything Becky was saying in the face of what she was showing me page after page. THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE is an exploration of whether or not married men and women can be friends and just friends. The answer is, of course, yes. But that is not what Becky and Felix are. I know that's what they're supposed to be. But they're not. They are intimates. They are soulmates. That is the way every encounter, ever glance, every touch is characterized. The intent seemed to be some sort of Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman-Paul Henreid triangle a la Casablanca. The result was a Rock Hudson-Doris Day-Tony Randall anti-triangle a la Pillow Talk. And by the time the overwrought, rushed ending arrived I felt so completely jerked around I was unable to deal with the melodrama a moment longer. I'm really sorry it ended this way, THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE. I know you've gotten a lot of positive reviews and it's quite possible it's me and not you. Fortunately, each reader can decide for herself. And I hope they do. As for you and me, I think it's time we start seeing other people.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Oh Shannon Hale...I try to like you...I really do. I give you chance after chance and guess what? I just don't. I know I am in the minority especially in my little subculture of the world but you're just not my...as you would annoyingly say..."cup of herbal tea". I found this book to be so "gosh darn" full of sugary cliched Happy Valley Mormonism that my teeth hurt and I wanted to vomit. I thought this book would be the "delightful romp" that it claimed to be but it wasn't. The main character, Be Oh Shannon Hale...I try to like you...I really do. I give you chance after chance and guess what? I just don't. I know I am in the minority especially in my little subculture of the world but you're just not my...as you would annoyingly say..."cup of herbal tea". I found this book to be so "gosh darn" full of sugary cliched Happy Valley Mormonism that my teeth hurt and I wanted to vomit. I thought this book would be the "delightful romp" that it claimed to be but it wasn't. The main character, Becky Jack, truly is the MOST annoying of characters. She's just knocked Bella from Twilight down a few notches. She is such a Utah LDS stereotype. You disappoint me Shannon Hale. First...the plot. The book is basically about Becky and her crush British actor, Felix (who in my book looks just like Hugh Grant) and their emotional affair. I wanted to scream as Becky was titillated every time Felix called, how her little pudgy heart just skipped a beat whenever she heard his voice but she would then go on and on about how much she "loved" her good old dependable husband Mike. Me thinks the lady doth protest too much. Shannon Hale tells us over and over again...ad naseaum...about how much Becky loves Mike and how her marriage is her number one priority yet Becky's actions tell a far different story. Each time Hale would have Becky say how much she loved Mike in the next breath she would then have Becky go off on how she and Felix were "soulmates". Ugh. I found myself asking throughout the whole book "Couldn't Felix do better than you? You are a bore...and a stereotype." And...not a very flattering stereotype, Ms. Hale, of LDS women. Second, the characters are so uninteresting, except for Felix, and completely unrealistic. The husband Mike after putting up with so much from his wife and her infatuation/relationship with Felix he finally reaches the end of his rope and tells her...that he "just doesn't understand." What!?! That's it? Call her out Mike!!" I wanted to yell. Grow some balls and a spine while you're at it!! I don't know what most of the readers husbands are like but mine would put up with behavior like that for exactly two seconds and vice versa. I kept wanting Mike to find a nice sexy blonde big boobed co-worker and claim her to be his "soulmate" and see how frumpy old zucchini bread baking Becky liked it. Probably not so much. Third, was this book written for the masses or did I miss the LDS lit label? Because Ms. Hale assumes that your average reader is in on all the LDS/Utah insight and most are not. I couldn't stand her description of how the city of Layton is pronounced...inside joke to Utah readers only. When Becky goes in to talk to her Bishop and she says that she has read a bunch of "Conference Talks" I'm sure the non-LDS reader has no clue what she is talking about...and these are just a few examples. Now that said there were some parts of this book where the dialogue between Becky and Felix was humorous...but then it never let up...every single time they spoke to one another it was in this obnoxious banter that I felt was contrived. Most of us have a friend or two were we riff off one another but then we can stop...it isn't endlessly ongoing. It got really old. The ending was pure torture. After all of the jerking around of the reader and the manipulating of our emotions (not to mention the offing of a main character) the ending blows. Really. Did we just go on that nausea inducing roller coaster ride for this. As I stared in disbelief at the last few pages what did Becky do? She giggled and guffawed and chortled and chuckled. How funny that after 11 years for them and a grueling 350 pages for me we find ourselves here. Lame. I know I am in the minority here and that lots of people who I respect liked this book but I didn't. Truth be told I despised it. I liked the premise but was disappointed with the product. Can men and women be friends...perhaps...just not "soul mates" if they are married to other people. But that's just my opinion. So here's where the rubber meets the road. Good-bye Shannon Hale. My rating: Too cheesy; too contrived; and too "Happy Valley" for me. I hated it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    SECOND READ: March 26, 2010 Listened to the audio book edition. The reader isn't the best, but dang it all if I forgot just how funny the banter is in this book! It makes me forget that I don't care for the reader because I am so busy smirking and laughing out loud so often. I still love this book! I tried to distract myself at the sad part by (1) knowing it was coming, (2) only half-listening to the audio book, and (3) cleaning the bathrooms. But dang that Shannon Hale for still making me cry desp SECOND READ: March 26, 2010 Listened to the audio book edition. The reader isn't the best, but dang it all if I forgot just how funny the banter is in this book! It makes me forget that I don't care for the reader because I am so busy smirking and laughing out loud so often. I still love this book! I tried to distract myself at the sad part by (1) knowing it was coming, (2) only half-listening to the audio book, and (3) cleaning the bathrooms. But dang that Shannon Hale for still making me cry despite it all. Seriously, I was washing the mirror when a tear rolled down my cheek. But I still did quite a bit of laughing out loud (and even smiling/smirking like a geek while listening to the book while grocery shopping). -------------------------- FIRST READ: March 4, 2009 I smiled. I smirked. I giggled. I laughed. I laughed some more. I mulled the problem in my head. I laughed A LOT more. I thought about it some more. Then I laughed so stinkin' hard that I had to put the book down 3 separate times before being able to continue reading. I thought some more. I laughed hard again and had to put the book down a second time to calm down my out-loud uncontrolled laughter. Then I got teary. Literally. Followed by some smiles. More tears. More giggles. More thinking. Then some big alligator tears. A smile. A smirk. Some more giggles. Some more laughter. Some cursing at the characters for being stupid. Some relief when they seemed to be headed back in the right direction again. Some more laughing. Well actually, a lot more laughing. And then the perfect ending for this story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I copied Esther's review, because it pretty much summed up exactly how I felt, and saves me the time and energy. I was excited to read another book by one of my favorite authors-Shannon Hale. I started feeling uncomfortable with it very early on and after talking with Alyssa who was further along with it decided to read the last 3 pages (which I usually don't do)and then flipped through it here and there...I didn't read anymore. The book is basically about an emotional affair (just as devestating I copied Esther's review, because it pretty much summed up exactly how I felt, and saves me the time and energy. I was excited to read another book by one of my favorite authors-Shannon Hale. I started feeling uncomfortable with it very early on and after talking with Alyssa who was further along with it decided to read the last 3 pages (which I usually don't do)and then flipped through it here and there...I didn't read anymore. The book is basically about an emotional affair (just as devestating as a physical affair...I've unfortunately seen it time and time again as a therapist) between the married housewife and a famous actor. Conveniently the housewife's husband dies and in the end she does not get with the actor which you would think would make it all okay but it does not. It doesn't make any sense that after all that she would not get with her best friend whom she loves and it seems to rationalize that all that came before was okay..."see we were just friends the whole time" when it still isn't okay.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tanja

    My dear Shannon, what have you done. I will be honest and say I am surprised a book like this came from her. I enjoy her writing style and her quick wit in all her books, but in the A&H I found myself laughing out loud. Is it a romance you might ask, no. Not in the traditional sense. It is a story of friendship. How do friends fit into our lives and how do we survive without the friend we need the most? Have you ever met that person who just knew you? You could stay up and laugh with them over t My dear Shannon, what have you done. I will be honest and say I am surprised a book like this came from her. I enjoy her writing style and her quick wit in all her books, but in the A&H I found myself laughing out loud. Is it a romance you might ask, no. Not in the traditional sense. It is a story of friendship. How do friends fit into our lives and how do we survive without the friend we need the most? Have you ever met that person who just knew you? You could stay up and laugh with them over the most ridiculous topics? I have had these friends. Their roles change as life changes and likewise in the book the different "friends" grow and change. The characters in this book were so tangible to me I feel as though they must be real. I guess I found myself in these characters and found that my response to situations would be similar to theirs. I enjoy reading, but I felt like this was an opening into someone else's life and I was lucky enough to be apart of it. Shannon did brave the topic of the mormon culture. This is always a hot button in books. Do I think people will be upset by her take on religion or the questions raised in the book? Absolutely. They will think she has some alterior motive. They will think she was not "real" with the characters. They will think that she made them too moral, too loose, too bland, or too perfect. How do you win with that? Poor writers and all the crap you have to put up with. I think it was a beautiful novel and I was lucky enough to go to a reading of this book and she is a lovely person herself. So I would say read this book, but if you hate it don't tell me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Brown

    *I keep going back and forth as to what I should rate this book, because although the premise of the book still makes me uncomfortable, the parts about her husband are so powerful and hit me so hard that I felt it deserved more than a 4.* I began this book with hesitancy, angry at myself for reading the jacket, knowing that a married woman would somehow get involved with an actor - also married. As I read more, I was sceptical, as they became best friends, worried as to where this may lead. (Any *I keep going back and forth as to what I should rate this book, because although the premise of the book still makes me uncomfortable, the parts about her husband are so powerful and hit me so hard that I felt it deserved more than a 4.* I began this book with hesitancy, angry at myself for reading the jacket, knowing that a married woman would somehow get involved with an actor - also married. As I read more, I was sceptical, as they became best friends, worried as to where this may lead. (Any married woman knows that it is very dangerous ground to have a male friend/confidant.) I was a little upset that it was making it all seem okay, but I kept reading. I am so glad I kept reading, because the story was a journey of love and friendship, of which I was so happy to take a ride on. Becky, the main character, a Mormon housewife living in Utah, meets Felix - a heartthrob actor, and they find they feel like long lost siblings. While their friendship throughout the story was a string that held it all together, my favorite part of the book was Becky's relationship with her husband Mike and her four children. Shannon Hale did such a wonderful job of portaying this regular woman and her life and love for her family. (I also felt like she did a fantastic job of portraying LDS culture and beliefs in a favorable way, especially since it is a main stream fiction book, and not an LDS novel.) I laughed, I cried - HARD, and I left the book feeling better about myself as a mother/wife and wanting to be better at the same time. So glad I didn't stop reading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I really liked this one. Sure, it's implausible, and it's not *really* chick lit, but it hit home with me. It is the story of a woman who happens to have an unconventional friendship, and how that effects her life. I laughed, I cringed, I cried, I rooted, I wondered. Good times. I really liked this one. Sure, it's implausible, and it's not *really* chick lit, but it hit home with me. It is the story of a woman who happens to have an unconventional friendship, and how that effects her life. I laughed, I cringed, I cried, I rooted, I wondered. Good times.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kylara Jensen

    This is the most ridiculous book I have ever read. I knew within 50 pages I wasn't going to enjoy it and so I skipped to the end third and skimmed and IT ONLY GOT MORE RIDICULOUS. I seriously don't recommend this book for anyone. Let me just say I enjoy Shannon Hale for the most part, but this book. Just I hope I have the words to accurately describer why this particular book doesn't work for me. Reasons To Not Read This Book: 1. I don't know if this book was specifically marketed as LDS Literatur This is the most ridiculous book I have ever read. I knew within 50 pages I wasn't going to enjoy it and so I skipped to the end third and skimmed and IT ONLY GOT MORE RIDICULOUS. I seriously don't recommend this book for anyone. Let me just say I enjoy Shannon Hale for the most part, but this book. Just I hope I have the words to accurately describer why this particular book doesn't work for me. Reasons To Not Read This Book: 1. I don't know if this book was specifically marketed as LDS Literature or not, but I hope it was. I'm LDS and I could barely handle all the Mormon references in here. I don't think anyone not LDS could enjoy it. There are really specific references to temple marriages, sacrament meetings, priesthood blessings, bishops, conference talks, etc. More than that, this is a Utah Mormon book. There are so many Utah references and inside jokes. Talking about pronouncing Laytn Lay'en and driving down Gentile Street. Please do not be specific. 1a. For a Mormon marketed book, this book had some pretty racy language. Now don't get me wrong, nothing graphic or overtly inappropriate, just surprising to find in this kind of book. Granted it is about a married woman, but there is a lot of reference to sex hidden in flowery terms and some mild cursing. So I feel like some people who would otherwise enjoy this book, wouldn't. 2. My edition (an ebook version) had typos. 3. Within the first ten pages, there were ridiculously racist comments. Now this is coming from someone who often uses the word Gypsy in her various screen names (because I identify with a nomadic way of life,) but in all actuality the Roma people find the word Gypsy or Gipsy a racial slur. We are kind of removed from that as Americans, but this scene has the two main characters going on and on making racist comments about Gypsies stealing their babies because someone they met was dressed in an outfit reminiscent of gypsies. Now imagine this scene in a different setting. The person they met had tribal tattoos and a feathered headband and then the two main characters said that person was a redskin or an injun and started making comments about worrying that person was going to scalp them and then also booze and casinos. Yes that would be an awful scene. IT STILL WAS AN AWFUL RACIST SCENE. 4. The main character isn't very likable. Or relatable to me. All she does is say how dumpy and frumpy she is and she completely defines her life by her roles as a wife and a mother. Of course I'm a generation younger and I don't have kids, but I've enjoyed plenty of books with older protagonistswhom I have nothing in common with. This one not so much. Some people could relate to that definitely, and maybe it was meant as a flaw, but it is not very fun to read about. I don't like main characters who are constantly putting themselves down. 5. This book is the worst kind of wish fulfillment. A book about a Mormon housewife screenWRITER who meets her favorite heartthrob actor? Hmm, who could the author be modeling this main character after. And the Actor is some hunky British guy OF COURSE. Think Collin Firth, because who doesn't like P&P. And then she JUST HAPPENS to meet him and they JUST HAPPEN to be staying at the same hotel and then become best of friends. THEY BECOME BEST OF FRIENDS. Now I know this is a book full of wacky shenanigans, but seriously. It's a silly unrealistic premise that doesn't feel real. It feels like the author writing themselves a fantasy. (And don't get me started about them talking about how the hand of God lead them together.) 6. This book explores the idea of whether or not two married people of the opposite sex could be nothing but platonic friends. And it dances around the idea of adultery. Well let me tell you right now that Yes two married people of the opposite sex can be platonic friends, but this is nothing like how you do it. This is a bad example and an unhealthy example of that. There is an affair in this book and I don't care that it wasn't sexual, but emotional affairs exist and when you give your emotional intimacy to someone else, not your spouse, that is an affair, not a friendship. 7. Did I already say that this is not a great example of platonic friendship? 8. I guess one of the main problems is that we are told over and over again about how much Becky loves her husband Mike. But we are not shown that at all. They have little in common. They can sit in comfortable silence and they have a good sex life, but that is pretty much it. Well throughout the whole book we are SHOWN how much chemistry Becky and Felix have. And I don't really like the word chemistry, but more than that we are shown how well they work together as a couple and are basically soulmates, but Oh yeah, let me TELL you how much Becky loves her husband. 9. That ending though. This book is basically a big m--- well let me just say it messes with your mind. And not in a good way. How can I talk about this without spoilers. The whole book is a setup for a certain thing to happen. It feels like a certain thing is going to happen. Things progress in a certain way, opening the path for those things to happen. Things almost happen. AND THEN THEY DON'T and the reader will be like WHAT THE MESS DID I JUST READ?!! Ok, I can't properly rant about it without spoilers so let me put some stuff under a cut. (view spoiler)[ So Becky's husband dies of cancer. It's very sad but very convenient. Oh and how convenient that Felix also got a divorce. And so then there's all this stuff happening between Becky and Felix. And because they have had so much chemistry throughout the book, they have even more while he is wooing her. And you assume they are going to get together, but no she loves Mike, but then she has a dream and Mike tells her it's ok. So she thinks she's in love with Felix. Then they kiss and Oh. They have No Chemistry. WHAT? Did the author even read the book before she wrote that ending? Of course they have chemistry!!! You have been showing us that the whole time. You can't just tell us that they don't. I don't believe you. Also, that is an UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP ASPECT. See below for more on that. (hide spoiler)] So Anyway, authors have to be careful not to pull an ending out of nowhere when they were leading up to something else the whole time. 10. This book portrays unhealthy relationship principles. I already talked about the Emotional affairs. Well let me tell you about a conversation Becky and Felix had. She tells him she doesn't believe in sex before marriage and predictably he asks what if they aren't compatible in bed and doesn't she need to test drive someone first? Instead of a GOOD answer like emotional intimacy, leads to physical intimacy and as long as you love each other and are willing (Both people being flexible and respectful) you can work things out, she gives the worst answer I've ever heard. Kind of an Um, I don't know. Good point. I just knew I would be compatible with my husband because he smelled good and the kissing was great. My poor sister, didn't even kiss her husband before they married. Too bad for her. Her marriage sucks now. (But they have 8 kids so something must be working well.) That's why people can't find love on the internet. And I'm all o.0????!!! Emotional connection and intimacy is so much more important than physical chemistry and that is kind of the opposite of the point this book makes. EVERYTHING about the relationships in this book point to unhealthy relationships and nothing to be used as a model for healthy human connection. Not what I want to read in a "romance novel."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Annalisa

    1.5 stars. I didn't quite hate it, but it made me uncomfortable. Let me start with this disclaimer: I have an aversion to romantic comedies. You know that moment in a movie where it's so awkward and contrived you're embarrassed someone wrote it and you're embarrassed for the actors that have to say the lines and you're embarrassed to be sitting there watching it? That's what this book was like. I'm not sure if Hale was trying to make an authentic Mormon housewife endearing to the masses, but she 1.5 stars. I didn't quite hate it, but it made me uncomfortable. Let me start with this disclaimer: I have an aversion to romantic comedies. You know that moment in a movie where it's so awkward and contrived you're embarrassed someone wrote it and you're embarrassed for the actors that have to say the lines and you're embarrassed to be sitting there watching it? That's what this book was like. I'm not sure if Hale was trying to make an authentic Mormon housewife endearing to the masses, but she misses the mark. Becky comes off as selfish and self-absorbed and makes Mormons look strange, not cute quirky, but "please don't touch me" weird. I guess these worlds were never meant to collide. Which brings me back to that awkward, contrived storyline. I never bought, not for one second, that a self-absorbed actor with a fear of all things domestic would not run for his life when Becky excuses herself to pump because she's letting down or would find her ramblings about her two-year-old showing her a snot-covered finger cute. I was embarrassed for her and I wasn't wearing a tux. I didn't believe Becky "the lady doeth protest too much" about her platonic relationship. Here's the actor that she swoons over because he's so hot, but now that they're best friends she's unattracted to him? No way. The more time you spend with someone, even someone who you aren't attracted to, the more attractive they become to you. There really is no plausible way to be that close to a man and your husband and not have the boundaries/your feelings cross. And the ending doesn't justify it (I skimmed) because: a) she had no way of knowing how things would end from the beginning, b) as evident by his behavior, she isn't faultless (and yes that includes Celeste; I believe the relationship played a part in that), and c) when all her safety devices are down and she's vulnerable, she may act differently than she would have otherwise (I hope that makes sense to someone who's read the book). I really like you Shannon (a lot), but I didn't like this book. There were moments I chuckled out loud and the title headings were fun, but I didn't like the story (which I should have known going into it). And I have a bone to pick with you: you type sh--, but then you go ahead and say Lord? As a Mormon, you should regard taking the name of the Lord in vain worse. And here I'm revealing my real issue with the book. I'm Mormon. I live in Utah. Maybe this hit a little too close to home, except for that whole relationship with my favorite actor. I don't have that going on.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I loved this book! It’s a fun story with magnetic characters I wish were in my real world! I laughed out loud many times at vivacious, out-spoken Becky and cried along with her more than once. Though the story requires a smidgen of a suspension of disbelief from the reader, this is not your usual formula chick-lit, as expectations end up twisting on you a number of times. I admit that I came to this book with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. The premise of a married woman striking up a friendship I loved this book! It’s a fun story with magnetic characters I wish were in my real world! I laughed out loud many times at vivacious, out-spoken Becky and cried along with her more than once. Though the story requires a smidgen of a suspension of disbelief from the reader, this is not your usual formula chick-lit, as expectations end up twisting on you a number of times. I admit that I came to this book with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. The premise of a married woman striking up a friendship with a married man was one that I had definite opinions about from the outset. It is a testament to Shannon Hale's writing and head-on way of addressing the readers' concerns that make this a very good read. It was refreshing that the story avoided cliché, tied-with-a-bow endings, and just when you think it’s going to be nothing more than a cute story, it pulls you into a journey with surprising depth. 5 stars for the fact that I had a hard time putting it down as well as the fact that exactly twice I turned to Hale’s picture at the back of the book and wagged my finger at her mischievous smile to scold her sneaky sneaky ways of turning my expectations on their head. I was truly sad to get to the last page and be done with the story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jen Russell

    I did like the way she talked about how intensely she loved her husband and kids; the way she thought about her kids and how important her role as a mother was. That's all I liked. 1/2 of the book was a sob fest. Which is not why I didn't like it. I didn't like it because I am not a girl who swoons over movie stars or talks about how attractive someone in a movie is. And, just the whole her hanging out with another man, alone and intimately made me uncomfortable. Maybe I am a prude, but it just did I did like the way she talked about how intensely she loved her husband and kids; the way she thought about her kids and how important her role as a mother was. That's all I liked. 1/2 of the book was a sob fest. Which is not why I didn't like it. I didn't like it because I am not a girl who swoons over movie stars or talks about how attractive someone in a movie is. And, just the whole her hanging out with another man, alone and intimately made me uncomfortable. Maybe I am a prude, but it just did not sit right with me. So that's her thing. Fine, great. But I with all of that said, I could not relate to the story at all because I would have never made those choices. It was a quick read and there were parts that I laughed out loud. Things I am taking from this book: Treat people nicer at ward events. Don't ask if they are new or whatever, just say "We haven't met yet. I'm Jen". Stop using terms such as "nonmember" . Hug my kids more. Be happy. Give my husband a break. Enjoy my time with them. You never know what is going to happen in this life.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Originally read in February 2010. Reread July 2016. Loved it just as much the 2nd time around. I get why this book isn't for everyone but it works for me. I love books that make me "feel". I love books that make me think. I love characters and situations I can relate to. I love books that stay with me. This one did all that and more. Original Review - I LOVED THIS BOOK! I laughed, I cried, I laughed again. I can't remember the last book where I actually laughed out loud as many times as I did re Originally read in February 2010. Reread July 2016. Loved it just as much the 2nd time around. I get why this book isn't for everyone but it works for me. I love books that make me "feel". I love books that make me think. I love characters and situations I can relate to. I love books that stay with me. This one did all that and more. Original Review - I LOVED THIS BOOK! I laughed, I cried, I laughed again. I can't remember the last book where I actually laughed out loud as many times as I did reading this book. Shannon Hale is hilarious. I love the way she writes. It's a long book. At least it took me forever to read it. I typically read about a page a minute but these pages were bigger than normal or had more words per page or something that made this book take me around 10 hours to read. Like I had 10 hours to spare this week on a 300 page book? I also can't remember the last book that I stayed awake to the wee hours of the night to finish. This one had me hooked and I wanted to finish it. I do have an issue with the premise of this book. LDS woman in love with her husband but has a male best friend. Not a good idea! I wasn't sure where this book was going to head early on and was a little worried but I was ok with the way the story went. Hale addressed all the issues of Becky having a male friend and made it ok for her (not for me) but ok enough for me to buy into this book. I was a little annoyed with the ending but as I thought about it more I decided I actually liked the twists at the end of the book and it was the only way it could end. Although published by Bloomsbury this book has LDS fiction elements to it. I wonder what a non-LDS audience thinks of this book? Source: Purchased Content: Some mild language and sexual innuendo/humor, not squeaky clean but nothing too over the top.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Disclaimer: I'm a Shannon Hale fan. I follow her blog, and I have been to one of her appearances at a local bookstore. In that brief, extremely public encounter, I was pleased to find that she is as delightfully witty, personable, and humble as I had imagined her to be. Maybe she's not like that at home, but she still charmed me. I think she is a stellar writer, and I adore her books. So yes, I am hopelessly biased. I haven't read Austenland, so this is the first S.H. "adult" book that I've read Disclaimer: I'm a Shannon Hale fan. I follow her blog, and I have been to one of her appearances at a local bookstore. In that brief, extremely public encounter, I was pleased to find that she is as delightfully witty, personable, and humble as I had imagined her to be. Maybe she's not like that at home, but she still charmed me. I think she is a stellar writer, and I adore her books. So yes, I am hopelessly biased. I haven't read Austenland, so this is the first S.H. "adult" book that I've read. I'm not really sure who her target audience was, but I'm pretty sure I fall into whatever readership she had in mind: late-thirties, Mormon, married (to a guy named Mike even!), kids, living freakishly near "Lay-en" Utah. I'm pretty much Becky, sans the talent of repartee, writing screenplays, and making pies from scratch. I don't know what readers outside this demographic could possibly think of this book, unless they understand Utah LDS culture. Shannon Hale took a large risk with this book, but I also think she did a good job of explaining some of the "quirks" of our religion/lifestyle without being overly preachy. And the writing! Ahhh, the writing. How I love being transported by her writing! This is classic Hale. I don't know how she comes up with her stuff, but she is so amazing at putting words together (she must have access to a Muse). Even if you don't like the premise of the book, the writing is just dang fun! I think for where I am in my life, this was a good read. I think earlier in my marriage, it would have made me uncomfortable to even wonder if I could be best friends with a man who was not my hubby. Even now it makes me squirm. Although I don't think most women and men could have the sort of relationship that Felix and Becky did, I applaud Shannon Hale for handling the subject deftly and honestly, and acknowledging the difficulties on both sides that would be inherent in such a friendship. And as much as I wanted them to be able to work it out in the ending, I knew it couldn't work if Becky was going to stay true to herself. So although it wasn't the fairytale ending we sometimes wish for, it was still fulfilling for me. One thing that bugged me though (and this just shows how shallow and insecure I am), is that I kept feeling like a loser (with a capital L) mom and wife because I don't gush love for my kids and hubby like Becky does. I just couldn't help comparing myself to her on that point. Although, if my hubby got cancer and died (heaven forbid), that might soften me up a bit. See, now that I said it it will happen--I've jinxed myself. I have "happiness anxiety." I'm just waiting for something bad to happen. But enough about me. Overall, it is fun "chick-lit" with more substance. It is fantasy, but laced with some serious questions for women, and men too. Can women and men be "just friends?" Can you ever be so secure in your marriage that it could weather an outside opposite-gender friendship, or is that fodder for adultery? If your spouse was okay with such a friendship, could you handle to criticism from outside sources? What do you consider being unfaithful? Is emotional intimacy more dangerous than physical? Is there such thing as friend-at-first-sight? Are some people drawn to each other platonically ? Does God "put" certain people in our path for a reason? These are some of the questions this book raised for me. And I like being able to explore these ideas within the safety of a fictional world.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jenlbot

    Completed Review- So now I am done with the book and I raised it to two stars. All the things I said below I still feel, but actually the last 1/3 of the book was better. This book was a span of 11 years and it read very disconnected to me. Am I glad I finished it? yes. Would I recommend it to a friend? Hmmm, only to see if they agree or disagree. In the middle Review-I JUST have to get this off my chest! I HATE this book! Now, I am still reading it and I am on page 143. I am really wanting to s Completed Review- So now I am done with the book and I raised it to two stars. All the things I said below I still feel, but actually the last 1/3 of the book was better. This book was a span of 11 years and it read very disconnected to me. Am I glad I finished it? yes. Would I recommend it to a friend? Hmmm, only to see if they agree or disagree. In the middle Review-I JUST have to get this off my chest! I HATE this book! Now, I am still reading it and I am on page 143. I am really wanting to stop and just find out the ending by asking my niece who already read it. I will probably finish it, but this is not even a book that is okay to me. I LOVE Sannon Hale! I think she is a great writer and this book is nothing like her writing in The Goose Girl, The Princess Academy or EVEN Austenland was better written. This is written so horribly and I am disgusted by Becky, the main character! I am bummed because I have A LOT in common with Becky considering I am an active Mormon housewife who has crushes on British actors (ahem...Robert). But Shannon wrote this so idealistically, it just makes me want to puke the entire time! Read it and let me know if I am waaaaaaay out there on this one!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beth A.

    I love Shannon Hale’s fairy tale retellings and fantasy. I also enjoyed Austenland. However, I had two major problems with this story. 1. I’m pretty oblivious to celebrities (I am, ask my husband), so I didn’t identify with all the “I’m so star-struck” or “I’m amazed that I’m not star-struck and he’s just a real person” business. 2. Although well justified in the story, I couldn’t get past the “I love my husband but this guy is my other best friend”. I know it’s possible, but it’s so not something I love Shannon Hale’s fairy tale retellings and fantasy. I also enjoyed Austenland. However, I had two major problems with this story. 1. I’m pretty oblivious to celebrities (I am, ask my husband), so I didn’t identify with all the “I’m so star-struck” or “I’m amazed that I’m not star-struck and he’s just a real person” business. 2. Although well justified in the story, I couldn’t get past the “I love my husband but this guy is my other best friend”. I know it’s possible, but it’s so not something I would be comfortable with that it interfered with my enjoyment of the story. 3. It’s too darn long. Oh, did I say two??? I wanted Becky and Mike to have their own story… where they meet, and love, and build a family, and survive the hardship mentioned in the book (no spoilers here!) on their own. That was the part of the story I enjoyed and connected with. I have to admit that the humor was amusing, and Hale had some realistic insights into Becky’s most difficult moments. The book grew in intensity and interest toward the end and ended in an unexpected way.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    This is not going to be a nice review, the book was just too irritating for me to be nice. Basically I can sum up the book with three words: ridiculous, pretentious, and contrived...oh so obviously contrived! It is easy to think of having a platonic friendship with an actor because it will never happen and it is safe. Why not be honest and write it about being best friends with another man in the character's neighborhood? I know why not! Because it is flat out wrong and would end up destroying t This is not going to be a nice review, the book was just too irritating for me to be nice. Basically I can sum up the book with three words: ridiculous, pretentious, and contrived...oh so obviously contrived! It is easy to think of having a platonic friendship with an actor because it will never happen and it is safe. Why not be honest and write it about being best friends with another man in the character's neighborhood? I know why not! Because it is flat out wrong and would end up destroying the marriage! This book was so annoying I don't even think I can finish it. I am on around page 160 and the characters are so unsympathetic that if they fell into a blazing volcano on the next page I would not care at all. Don't think I will be picking it up again. Sorry, Shannon Hale, looking forward to the next Bayern book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Not quite sure what to say about this book -- I read it -- I read it fast (less than 1/2 a day)-- I laughed and cried . . . but not too sure if I liked it or not. Here is why. . . 1. The main character (Becky) is a very real to life person. But the circumstances and co-incidences that she finds herself in are a bit far-fetched. I could believe that Becky could sell a screenplay. I could believe that she would meet a famous person -- but then . . . ***spoiler alert*** to have the famous actor (Fel Not quite sure what to say about this book -- I read it -- I read it fast (less than 1/2 a day)-- I laughed and cried . . . but not too sure if I liked it or not. Here is why. . . 1. The main character (Becky) is a very real to life person. But the circumstances and co-incidences that she finds herself in are a bit far-fetched. I could believe that Becky could sell a screenplay. I could believe that she would meet a famous person -- but then . . . ***spoiler alert*** to have the famous actor (Felix) fall in love with Becky and even suggest to his wife (the beautiful Celeste) that this woman, Becky (who is 7 months pregnant with her 4th child) is tempting him to have an affair and then when Becky spurns him romantically, she and Felix decide to instead become best of friends --that is when it begins to be a bit unbelievable. 2. Then to have each of their spouses be Ok with their "Emotional affair" is a bit unbelievable. 3. Then when she becomes an actress and stars opposite Felix in a movie where the characters they play fall in love and kiss -- starts to move way into the realm of fantasy. 4. That Becky believes for even a minute that Felix isn't hoping the relationship moves beyond friends is shocking especially given the fact that once Mike (Becky's husband) is cold in the ground he makes his moves! 5. And lastly, that Becky when given the opportunity to marry the man who has been her soulmate, best friend, comforter, confidante, and more and given that Felix has changed his way, life, attitude, and everything for her, says no. In some ways this book seems to be trying to address the question (from When Harry met Sally) -- "Can a woman and a man be friends without the sex thing getting in the way" -- When really the question should be, "Is there a point where a friendship crosses the line into an affair even without sex being involved?" The book (from Becky's point of view) makes it clear that Becky thinks it is OK -- but I would love to read the book from all the other characters points of view . . . from Felix -- (I think we would see him hoping that someday the relationship will progress physically -- her resistance is perhaps the most attractive part of her --) from Celeste -- (I think she is party to a much more broad idea of marriage but is still hurt considerably that the woman with 4 children is so attractive and close to Felix when he cannot even commit to having children with her) and from Mike -- I think he is often very hurt emotionally and feels betrayed but since nothing "official" has happened is not willing to force a change either by ending the marriage or ending the friendship.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    In choosing to post this, I had to weigh my potential embarrassment at admitting to have read this book with my desire to help others avoid making the same mistake. The latter won out, so here's my review: This was a book group pick. I was skeptical about it (and mostly uninterested) from the start. I read it quickly because I respect the person who chose it and wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. Also, I must say I have a hard time NOT finishing books I begin--it bothers me to stop in In choosing to post this, I had to weigh my potential embarrassment at admitting to have read this book with my desire to help others avoid making the same mistake. The latter won out, so here's my review: This was a book group pick. I was skeptical about it (and mostly uninterested) from the start. I read it quickly because I respect the person who chose it and wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. Also, I must say I have a hard time NOT finishing books I begin--it bothers me to stop in the middle and judge without knowing the whole, even if I'm hating it, however strange that may seem! So I finished it. There are so many great books out there, and so little time in life to read them, that I feel a little bit bad about spending even three days on this one. I found the characters completely unrealistic and annoying. I thought the whole read like a bad screenplay. Becky, the main character, was up, down, and all over the place, and it seemed the author didn't really know what to do with her either. I have to say that, to answer this book's central question, I DON'T believe it's possible for a man and woman (both heterosexual) to have a deep friendship without one or both having some other feelings in the mix, whether admitted or not. Perhaps that's why I just couldn't go along with this premise. And truthfully, I didn't like the way Becky Jack attributes the whole experience to a grand plan from God to provide for her. While I do know a Heavenly Father who gently guides our experiences and puts us where we should be, this particular stretch seemed a little too deterministic. It turned me off. Finally, the names! I couldn't hate them more. Yep, you heard me. I will not be naming any of my children Becky. Felix was the name of my cat. I couldn't get past that either.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    Let me first state that I've loved Mrs. Hale's young adult books. I think she really excels at that kind of fantasy. I felt like I was the only person ever who didn't love Austenland - I guess I just see things a little differently. So....I really wanted to just love this book. I tried really hard. But I just couldn't. I just could not like Becky, the main character. And I've discovered if I can't like, or sympathize, or relate to or whatever - to the characters, I will ultimately not care for th Let me first state that I've loved Mrs. Hale's young adult books. I think she really excels at that kind of fantasy. I felt like I was the only person ever who didn't love Austenland - I guess I just see things a little differently. So....I really wanted to just love this book. I tried really hard. But I just couldn't. I just could not like Becky, the main character. And I've discovered if I can't like, or sympathize, or relate to or whatever - to the characters, I will ultimately not care for the book. I actually struggled to finish it. It's hard to pin down and verbalize why I didn't care so much for it - I'm not very good at that. Everything seemed so "calculated" to me. The entire progression of the book felt diagrammed and planned down to every comma, with the result that I felt manipulated throughout. I simply couldn't just enjoy the writing, even though Mrs. Hale paints some beautiful word pictures. The whole "can a woman be best friends with a man not her husband" thing just seemed pounded into the ground. I kept thinking, "why can't she just be best friends with her husband?" Oh, yeah, right, then there wouldn't be the book. Sorry, I know I'm in the minority, but this one just didn't do it for me. I wish I could have given it 1 1/2 stars.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I was disappointed in this book. It would have been more accurate if it was described as "a modern fairy-tale". Her other books are a re-telling of fairy tales (my favorite is "Goose Girl"). In this book, the main characters were not believable, the banter was contrived and not very funny, the husband was too saintly, the children were too good to be true (not even any teenaged attitude, all sweetness and light!). I did not believe that Becky would be as accomodating as her husband if he had a b I was disappointed in this book. It would have been more accurate if it was described as "a modern fairy-tale". Her other books are a re-telling of fairy tales (my favorite is "Goose Girl"). In this book, the main characters were not believable, the banter was contrived and not very funny, the husband was too saintly, the children were too good to be true (not even any teenaged attitude, all sweetness and light!). I did not believe that Becky would be as accomodating as her husband if he had a best girlfriend who was famous and gorgeous. The whole premise of the book was as implausible as a fairy-tale.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Huh. Well, I wanted to like this, but found that I kind of had to force myself to finish it. Pros: Cute banter, funny at times. Cons: It just went on and on and on with no climax or good conclusion. At the end of the book I was like, "That's it? That's what I've been hanging on for?" Seriously, you could have read the first few chapters and then tacked on a "The End" and you would have had the whole book in a nutshell. I won't say it didn't have it's moments, but there was absolutely no satisfactio Huh. Well, I wanted to like this, but found that I kind of had to force myself to finish it. Pros: Cute banter, funny at times. Cons: It just went on and on and on with no climax or good conclusion. At the end of the book I was like, "That's it? That's what I've been hanging on for?" Seriously, you could have read the first few chapters and then tacked on a "The End" and you would have had the whole book in a nutshell. I won't say it didn't have it's moments, but there was absolutely no satisfaction for me in this read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trin

    I put off writing this review for a really long time because I knew that no matter what I did, it was going to turn into My Thoughts On Mormonism, and nobody really cares about My Thoughts On Mormonism, nor is a book review really the place to discuss them. However, the Mormon faith has such a large role in this book that I can’t not address it, as it seriously influenced my enjoyment of the novel. So, inescapably: My Thoughts on Mormonism. I have some problems with Mormonism. I don’t pretend to I put off writing this review for a really long time because I knew that no matter what I did, it was going to turn into My Thoughts On Mormonism, and nobody really cares about My Thoughts On Mormonism, nor is a book review really the place to discuss them. However, the Mormon faith has such a large role in this book that I can’t not address it, as it seriously influenced my enjoyment of the novel. So, inescapably: My Thoughts on Mormonism. I have some problems with Mormonism. I don’t pretend to know or understand all the tenets of this religion, and mostly I would not care, except that the Church of Latter-Day Saints seems to have such strict rules regarding its members’ personal and social lives. I am really bothered by any faith that preaches that homosexuality is a sin, or that women must be subservient to their husbands. (I know that there are some more “mainstream” Christians who believe these things too, and I am equally bothered by that. However, that’s not what this book is about.) Reading a book that presents these attitudes as super-duper hunky dory makes me incredibly uncomfortable—almost as uncomfortable, I would wager, as a devout Mormon would find a book about the pleasures of gay sex interspersed with demon hunting (which to me would qualify as an awesome way to spend a Saturday night). I don’t have any problem with a book that’s all “yay, Mormonism!” existing (and perhaps that’s where the comparison I made above fails: I’m not going to start calling people who think they should never, ever watch an R-rated movie sinners), but I don’t particularly want to read it. And that’s part of the problem I had with The Actor and the Housewife, I guess: it’s marketed as a mainstream book, but both the author and the main character are Mormons, and a lot of the plot is driven by a moral compass that I can’t help finding somewhat insane. The basic plot is this: Mormon housewife Becky Jack semi-improbably becomes besties with atheist movie star Felix Callahan—whose life philosophy is treated with utter fairness and respect, and in that Hale has one up on me. But then interspersed amongst the expected shenanigans there are, say, long sections in which Becky has to go to her husband and her church to get permission to maintain an entirely innocent and platonic relationship with a man she isn’t married to. And this is presented like it’s totally okay: yes, little lady, your husband and your priest can regulate every aspect of your life! In fact, they should, and if you don’t let them, you should be paralyzed with guilt! (And, you know: also no R-rated movies for you.) There were things I really, really liked about this novel. Hale’s narrative voice was vibrant and meta and fun, and parts of the story made me laugh out loud, while other parts had me seriously choked up. The ending annoyed me a little—on a purely narrative level; I felt like Hale was being a bit of a cocktease and trying to have things both ways—but for the most part: fun book! Fun book I could never fully enjoy because I thought about living Becky’s life and I wanted to scream. Possibly what all of this reveals is that I am less open-minded than I would like to believe. And, you know, maybe. So if that’s true, I’m sorry, but I don’t know what to do. I can read about women being treated unfairly in historical fiction and sometimes I can stomach it (sometimes) because I tell myself: hey, that was the time period, things got better. But this is a modern novel, and its author—clearly a really smart, funny, self-aware woman—thinks this sort of thing is just fine. And I don’t know what to do with that. At all. All I do know is, based on her prose style and her sense of humor, I would really like to read more of Hale’s work. But based on other factors—yes, My Thoughts On Mormonism, Let Me Show You Them—I’m not sure I will, or should. And that makes me sad.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    I was really looking forward to reading this book and loving it. I enjoy Shannon Hale's books, so I'm disappointed to give this book only 3 stars. Actually, I was only going to give it 2 stars, but I guess I'm feeling generous. I hate to totally beat up the book, but I actually enjoyed reading it for the most part. It was funny and witty, touching and sad, and entertaining. But at the same time it just really rubbed me the wrong way. Here is what bugged me about the book: 1) The main character is I was really looking forward to reading this book and loving it. I enjoy Shannon Hale's books, so I'm disappointed to give this book only 3 stars. Actually, I was only going to give it 2 stars, but I guess I'm feeling generous. I hate to totally beat up the book, but I actually enjoyed reading it for the most part. It was funny and witty, touching and sad, and entertaining. But at the same time it just really rubbed me the wrong way. Here is what bugged me about the book: 1) The main character is supposed to represent me: married "Mormon" housewife with kids. And yet I could NOT relate to her. She did not seem to think or act anything like I do, and I think I'm pretty "normal." Her relationship with this actor was just too hard to big of a stretch. 2) Though the book recounts her busy life as a mother, and active member of the LDS church, never once does it mention her having a church calling/assignment, though it does mention her husband's calling. This seemed really inconsistent. SPOILER ALERT: 3) I found it very disturbing that her husband would agree to let his wife continue a relationship with another man as a "friend", that she would even WANT to continue it, and that her bishop would agree that it's OK. That was just too ridiculous. Why would her best friend be a man other than her husband? I just could not get past that. My husband IS my best friend... the one I want to talk to about everything, laugh with, etc. It was creepy that she felt comfortable being so intimate with a man other than her husband. What happened to cleave unto your spouse and none other? It was just yucky. 4) I can suspend my disbelieve to allow that somehow this woman was able to sell a screen-play or two to Hollywood producers, and even get a movie made, and mabye even that she would end of "co-starring" it in. But I could not get past the fact that even though she wrote the script she somehow doesn't realize she would have to kiss Felix? Give me a break. 5) I was really worried that after her husband died she would actually end up with Felix. I was getting really disgusted as I saw the story going that way, so I was relieved when it didn't happen. Thank goodness for that.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    This is where having book connections comes in handy: being able to borrow an Advance Reading Copy! Becky Jack is exactly the sort of character you'd want to be best friends with, even if just so you could tease her about her triple weekly pies and hear her witty retort. She has strong convictions, but within those she's game to see where the combo of fate and choice takes her--through fun, doubts, laughs, romance, tough decisions, beauty, anguish, great twists, gorgeous hope, and humorous dialog This is where having book connections comes in handy: being able to borrow an Advance Reading Copy! Becky Jack is exactly the sort of character you'd want to be best friends with, even if just so you could tease her about her triple weekly pies and hear her witty retort. She has strong convictions, but within those she's game to see where the combo of fate and choice takes her--through fun, doubts, laughs, romance, tough decisions, beauty, anguish, great twists, gorgeous hope, and humorous dialogue. Shannon never disappoints! I was hesitant at first, unsure where the story was headed, but the questions explored throughout--what is God's role in our lives? how do you separate different kinds of love (and keep them separate)?--won me over. That and the supporting cast of characters you can't help but love as much as Becky does. Altogether it gave me a renewed appreciation for life, which is the best gift a book can offer. I'll be buying a copy to reread in June!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I was delighted to get an advance reader's copy from Bookmooch.com. What an unexpected treat! Like the back cover declares, it is a different kind of fantasy: what it would be like to become friends with a famous person. The book is full of fun times and witty banter. I even laughed out loud a few times! The nitty-gritty part is whether a person can have a best-friend relationship with someone of the opposite sex (who is not her spouse) while maintaining a strong, healthy marriage. Hale explored I was delighted to get an advance reader's copy from Bookmooch.com. What an unexpected treat! Like the back cover declares, it is a different kind of fantasy: what it would be like to become friends with a famous person. The book is full of fun times and witty banter. I even laughed out loud a few times! The nitty-gritty part is whether a person can have a best-friend relationship with someone of the opposite sex (who is not her spouse) while maintaining a strong, healthy marriage. Hale explored the character's struggles of "not crossing the line." Overall, I loved this book! Granted, the story is a bit disjointed at times, since it covers a large length of time. But I enjoyed seeing how the relationship changed over those years. After reading this book, I am definitely a Shannon Hale fan again!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Shannon Hale wrote another fantasy – oh wait, there was neither magic dust nor super human powers. Oh dear. Shannon Hale has written a fantasy masked as reality creating ABSURDITY! Absurdity #1: A mother of four and happily married Mormon housewife, Becky Jack, from Layton, Utah becomes best bosom friends with a celebrity heartthrob, Felix Callahan. They consummate their relationship through a pinky pledge made outside the Utah state capitol building. Absurdity #2: Becky’s husband, who happens t Shannon Hale wrote another fantasy – oh wait, there was neither magic dust nor super human powers. Oh dear. Shannon Hale has written a fantasy masked as reality creating ABSURDITY! Absurdity #1: A mother of four and happily married Mormon housewife, Becky Jack, from Layton, Utah becomes best bosom friends with a celebrity heartthrob, Felix Callahan. They consummate their relationship through a pinky pledge made outside the Utah state capitol building. Absurdity #2: Becky’s husband, who happens to be perfect (did I mention that this was fantasy? – sorry Greg, you’re just a genius and a god, but not yet perfect), gladly holds down the shabby fort in Layton while his wife flies off to New York to spend quality time with Felix because Felix is someone who “clicks with her soul, finding an empty groove and fitting it perfectly.” The husband has no problem with this and apparently, neither does Felix’s wife. Why is Mike the husband so secure with his marriage? Because he and Becky have the following conversation: Mike: Is there something I’m not doing? That I should be doing? Becky: No! Heavens, sweetheart, you’re perfect, almost annoyingly so. You are my eternal companion. I want to be with you in this life and the next. Felix is. . . it’s like he’s my long-lost conjoined twin or something. Conjoined twins can still fall in love and marry other people, can’t they? (Husband has an ah-ha moment!) Becky: Let’s both be on this marginally slippery slope together and hang on to each other for support. Yep, that conversation did the trick because the very next day they fly out to LA to share the joy of their epiphany with Felix. It is during this very trip that Becky reveals to both of them that Mike is her heart and Felix is her liver. To take their relationship to the next level, Becky and Felix get matching liver lockets to wear around their necks – Becky’s on a delicate chain, and Felix’s on a masculine leather cord. Absurdity #3: Becky meets with her bishop to discuss her extra-marital relationship. He advises, “Pray about this. Keep yourself open to the guidance of the Spirit. Keep talking to Mike. You’ll make a good choice.” Becky’s “revelation” – her friendship with Felix was part of God’s grand plan for her life. Yeah. If you can stomach it, Absurdity #4: Becky writes a screenplay which not only gets green lighted by a major Hollywood studio, but she gets to star in her own romantic comedy opposite to. . . you’ll never guess. . . Felix! AND they get to kiss- but it’s all kosher because right before the kissing scene she eats garlic and onions to make her less desirable, and during the kissing scene she pretends she’s kissing Mike. I could go on, but I’ll stop. So why do I give this book any stars at all? One star: It makes for good discussion about the appropriateness of male/female friendships outside of marriage. Two stars: Some of her well-written descriptions (yes, I did just say “well-written” – after all, Shannon Hale is a Newberry award winner!) of what makes for a great kissing scene found on page 194, and of the end of summer melancholy on page 97.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Liz B

    Shannon Hale is a fantastic writer, but I'm still abandoning this book. It boils down to this: I don't like the plot or the characters enough to sit through 350 pages of charming scenes. Becky Jack is perfecty perfect. Not in a movie star kind of way, in a nice girl next door kind of way. She is Betty from the Archie comics, only married with kids. She is-- *pretty but not too pretty *not skinny but not fat; just concerned enough about her weight to be believable *funny! oh so funny! *smart *honest *nic Shannon Hale is a fantastic writer, but I'm still abandoning this book. It boils down to this: I don't like the plot or the characters enough to sit through 350 pages of charming scenes. Becky Jack is perfecty perfect. Not in a movie star kind of way, in a nice girl next door kind of way. She is Betty from the Archie comics, only married with kids. She is-- *pretty but not too pretty *not skinny but not fat; just concerned enough about her weight to be believable *funny! oh so funny! *smart *honest *nice *humble! *religious; she thoughtfully follows the teachings of her church (in this case, LDS) without resentment. She's not a blind follower, though; she has come completely to terms with her religion after careful thought and assessment. *considerate of the feelings of her spouse, friends, and children--as of page 90 or so, all the time without exception *totally and 100% in love with her husband, enough so that becoming friends with a Colin Firth-ish actor doesn't even tempt her, not even a little bit--she just becomes friends with him. (That's what the story is about--the establishment and growth of their friendship, and the difficulties inherent in being married with a close friend of the opposite sex.) Possibly she is not tempted because she and her husband have a super-duper sex life. And four sweet kids. Two girls and two boys. She's a really, really good mother, too. Naturally. I was more or less OK with all of this until she baked three pies. Which she does every week. (Making her own crust, by the way! Did I mention that one of the kids is a nursing infant?) Why three pies? Why, one is for her family, of course, and she doesn't know who the other two are for, yet; she will give them to someone in her life who seems to need them. Arrrrrrgh. That's when I had to stop. Well, that's a slight exaggeration; I did keep reading for about 30 more pages and skimmed ahead a bit, too. (See? Becky Jack's total honesty is wearing off on me!) But as far as I can tell Becky isn't going to have to grow or change much in this book--or at least it's not going to happen soon enough for me to be willing to stick with it. Oh, I'm sure something is going to happen that upsets her very nice life; I just think that Becky is going to have the charm and fortitude to overcome it, instead of having to develop said fortitude. I will absolutely keep reading Hale's work; after all, she managed to get two stars in a review of a book that I don't even intend to finish! This one just isn't for me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl-Lynn

    This sort of contains spoilers. Nothing too specific but just be warned if you want to know NOTHING when you read this book don't read my review until after. I don't even know how to write a review on this book. I would give this book 5 stars for the actual writing. AMAZING. I think I felt the emotions exactly as Shannon Hale wanted me to feel them. 100+ pages into the book I really did not like it, I wanted to stop reading except I wanted to know what happened and I knew people had liked the bo This sort of contains spoilers. Nothing too specific but just be warned if you want to know NOTHING when you read this book don't read my review until after. I don't even know how to write a review on this book. I would give this book 5 stars for the actual writing. AMAZING. I think I felt the emotions exactly as Shannon Hale wanted me to feel them. 100+ pages into the book I really did not like it, I wanted to stop reading except I wanted to know what happened and I knew people had liked the book. I believe for the average LDS woman, this is exactly what Hale WANTED us to feel. I read books wanting to vote for the relationships and at this point in the book, I couldn't. It was such a complete turn around when they got to renew their relationship. This was the point when I realized just how good Hale had written this because SHE was controlling MY emotions with words. Amazing. I don't remember a book when I have actually laughed out loud so much. Such great writing. The story I give 2 or 3 stars. Not my favorite. It kind of reminds me of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I didn't necessarily like the story but Depp did such an AMAZING job acting, I just wanted to see it again to see him act. Hale did such an amazing job writing this I'm glad I read it but the actual story- ugh. From not knowing how to morally feel about it, to just not being able to picture this ever happening to me or anyone I know- it just didn't uplift me. The last 1/3 of the book- wow. Tear jerker. Poor Kiley was trying to watch a movie while I was reading this and just kept asking me if I was okay. "Yup, it's just sad." This was such a *real* part of the book. We'll all go through our personal trials- not those day to day trials but those Abrahamic trials. Amazing writing- have I mentioned that? And yet, on goes the overlying theme of this book- so unrealistic. The reality mixed with unbelievable just didn't jive well with me. Don't know how to feel about the ending either. Is there another book? Doubt it. When I finished the book and Kiley asked me how it was, I couldn't really say. Weird, fine, witty, emotional, funny, ugh.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    A surprising book. Shannon takes us on a tour through ten years in the life of a Morman housewife, who also happens to be good friends with a famous movie star. They have their ups and downs, their relationship is questioned by themselves and others, their lives take surprising turns. It starts out with lots of snappy, almost too fluffy, dialogue, but as the years pass it becomes a tender look at friendship and love and family.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Haley

    This book fantastic. As a younger kid I loved Shannon Hale's YA books: The Books of Bayern, The Princess Academy, Book of a Thousand Days, and I was a little worried when I first heard she was writing an adult novel. But I read it anyway, and it is absolutely amazing. It makes you laugh and cry and cheer and laugh again. Felix and Becky are the funniest couple of book characters I have ever read about; I had to keep reading passages out loud to my family so they understood what I was laughing to This book fantastic. As a younger kid I loved Shannon Hale's YA books: The Books of Bayern, The Princess Academy, Book of a Thousand Days, and I was a little worried when I first heard she was writing an adult novel. But I read it anyway, and it is absolutely amazing. It makes you laugh and cry and cheer and laugh again. Felix and Becky are the funniest couple of book characters I have ever read about; I had to keep reading passages out loud to my family so they understood what I was laughing to myself about. 04/02/2018 I know this book has some flaws. But it remains one of the most funny books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It was one of my first forays into adult novels so long ago. One of the first books my sister ever trusted me enough to read on my recommendation (we have very different tastes). It is an absolute study in dialogue. A gorgeous depiction of marriages and families. A blessing to see a man and a woman be friends as adults while remaining faithful to their spouses and navigating the hardships and uncertainties that come alongside that (view spoiler)[without falling in love (hide spoiler)] . It's so so enjoyable, and I love it so so much.

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